Foreigners who live in Korea or have visited the country say Pyeongchang's successful bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics did more to boost Korea's image than K-pop.
The Corea Image Communication Institute, which looks for ways to improve Korea's image abroad, surveyed 211 foreign diplomats, academics, CEOs, artists and other opinion leaders from Oct. 10 to Nov. 7, and 55.3 percent said the Pyeongchang bid played the biggest role in improving Korea's image.
Next were K-pop (18.6 percent) and Shin Kyung-sook's international bestseller "Please Look After Mom" (16.7 percent). Others cited novelist Lee Oe-soo, figure skating champion Kim Yu-na, English Premier League footballer Park Ji-sung and singer Rain.
In contrast, 39.2 percent of 303 Koreans who were surveyed cited K-pop as playing the biggest part in boosting their country's image abroad, followed by the Pyeongchang bid with 36.6 percent.
The most popular Korean food among foreign respondents was a typical family meal with side dishes, soup and rice, cited by 41.4 percent, while 29.8 percent chose a sumptuous full-course dinner. Next were street snacks (5.6 percent) and traditional rice cakes and cookies (3.7 percent).
But some 38 percent of Korean respondents thought foreigners would prefer the full-course Korean dinner.
Choi Jung-wha of CICI said, "Even 10 years ago, foreigners used to say, 'I don't know what to eat' when they were confronted with the typical Korean meal table and preferred the full-course meal instead, but with rising awareness of Korean cuisine through efforts to publicize it, preferences have changed."
The animated penguin Pororo and 16-year-old rhythmic gymnast Son Yeon-jae and junior figure skating Grand Prix bronze medalist Kim Hae-jin were also seen as image boosters.